Located on Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is famous for its underwater life as the country’s first undersea park. The park was created as a way to protect the coral reef – the only living coral reef in the continental United States.
Glass bottom tours showcase the reef as well as marine life and a 1715 Spanish shipwreck complete with anchor and cannons. And activities such as hiking, kayaking, fishing, swimming, scuba diving, camping, picnicking are also available for guests to this southern Florida park.
Plan a visit to this gorgeous beach resort and get a closer look at the vibrant underwater life of Southern Florida. Take a glass bottom boat tour and check out the park’s aquarium that houses a 30,000 gallon saltwater tank with reef fish plus smaller tanks with living coral and other sea life. The dive shop inside the park offers scuba tours.
The Blue Heron Cafe serves freshly made food, drinks and ice cream that can be enjoyed outside overlooking the water.
Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your visit to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park:
Boating at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Canoe or kayak through the mangroves and along Largo Sound. The park’s concessionaire offers boat rental and paddling trail maps for adventurous guests. Get a closer look at the beautiful coral reef and underwater life on a glass bottom boat tour. The park offers 4 different tours to meet the needs and interests of its guests, including a wheelchair accessible tour.
Swimming at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Swim along the beautiful coastline of Cannon Beach and Far Beach; snorkel or scuba dive along the gorgeous multi-colored coral reefs or spend a day collecting shells, building sand castles or relaxing under the palm trees.
The park’s 5-star dive shop offers snorkeling and scuba diving tours. Their Encounter tour is wheelchair accessible.
See fish, coral and artifacts from a 1715 Spanish shipwreck.
Hiking at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Wander along one of the park’s three nature trails and discover wildflowers, butterflies, citrus trees, mangrove swamps, tropical hardwood hammock, wildlife and more. Each trail offers something different.
Here are some of the trails at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park:
- The Wild Tamarind Trail – Easy 0.4 mile loop through the tropical hardwood hammock.
- The Mangrove Trail – Easy 0.3 miles boardwalk trail that follows the paddling trail through the mangrove swamp area. Beautiful views of the beach from this mostly shaded trail.
- The Grove Trail – Easy 0.5 mile soft sandy trail lined with coral that leads from a mangrove swamp through the tropical hardwood and along to a historic fruit grove with lemon, mangoes and avocado trees.
Fishing at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Pick up a Florida saltwater fishing license and bring your angling gear for a chance to catch Mangrove Snappers, tarpon, grouper, mullet, pinfish, pilchards, hogfish, nurse sharks and schoolmaster snapper. Fishing is allowed in designated areas only, be sure to check with the ranger station.
Birding at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Birdwatch along the beach, trails and other parts of the park. Discover Gray Kingbirds, Black-whiskered Vireo, White-crowned pigeons, Mangrove Cuckoos, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Laughing Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Short-tailed Hawks, wild Ibis and more during your visit.
Nature and Wildlife at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Experience the beautiful waters at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Get a closer look at the brightly colored coral reef and various species of fish. Often manatees may also be seen near the marina or Largo Sound.
The glass bottom boat tours are an ideal way to get a closer look without harming any of the natural sea life.
Pets at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Pets are allowed inside the park but should be supervised and kept on a handheld leash no longer than 6 feet. Pets are not permitted inside any park buildings or in the beach area.
Camping at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Bring your RV, tent or camping boat and spend a peaceful evening inside John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Boat slips are available at the marina.
The main campground has 42 sites with electric, water and sewer hookups plus a picnic table and grill. Most sites can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet. The park’s primitive group camping area has a water faucet, a campfire circle, a picnic table and space for up to 24 campers.
Restrooms are nearby all camping areas inside the park. Laundry facilities are also available in the main campground area.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
102601 Overseas Hwy
Key Largo, FL 33037
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: